It is not as if Kettle Creek Battleground will soon disappear. Land generally does not vanish unless an ocean swallows it or developers cement over it. It is unlikely an ocean will rise high enough to swallow the site where a militia force of Patriots defeated and scattered a Loyalist militia force on Valentine’s Day, 1779, outside Washington, Ga., nor will commercial development threaten the backwoods battlefield in the near future. However, like any battleground that defines American heritage, we must recognize its worth and maintain its grounds.
As a native Georgian, even I knew nothing about Kettle Creek. I often ignored the marker on the side of the freeway. The Revolutionary War seemed too distant to care about. But an important Patriot victory Kettle Creek was. It confirmed the inability of British forces to hold the interior of Georgia or shield a large number of Loyalist recruits outside immediate British protection.
I learned these details when I joined the Philadelphia Winn Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution of Lawrenceville, which is one of several organizations that donate to the preservation of Kettle Creek. Out of curiosity, my husband and I stopped by the site when returning from vacation in June.
We drove down a largely deserted road that ran about seven miles. Then we turned onto a short one-lane road that led us deep into the woods. “War Hill” stood before us. On top lay pristine graves of Patriots who fought in the battle. The tranquility of the woods struck me as I noted the monument commemorating the event. I found it hard to believe that men had fought a frenzied battle for freedom in such a peaceful place. Birdsong filled the air instead of musket fire. Surely, the dead rest soundly in such a soothing forest.
I asked myself, “What more does Kettle Creek need?” The answer came quickly — visitors. It needs visitors to learn about the war’s Southern Campaign. It needs visitors to see the role Georgia militias played. It needs visitors to recognize that Bunker Hill was not the only spot where Patriots spilled their blood for a new nation.
If we do not visit and maintain Kettle Creek, regardless of the markers, monument, and graves, we will forget the battle (as I feel we already have). As mentioned earlier, Kettle Creek has friends, among them the Allen Howard National Society Children of the American Revolution of Lawrenceville. These kids raise funds so one day perhaps a two-lane road may lead into the site. Kettle Creek needs restroom facilities where a bus load of tourists may freshen up. It needs a museum to illustrate and educate people on what happened there.
In other words, the Patriots who fought at Kettle Creek need us. At the very least, we owe them our gratitude.